The Iranian government is plotting to assassinate the US ambassador to South Africa in retaliation for killing one of its top generals earlier this year, it has been reported.
US intelligence officials say the threat against Lana Marks has increased in recent months, with agents reportedly working against her from the Iranian embassy in the city of Pretoria.
The plot is believed to be in retaliation for the death of Revolutionary Guards general Qassem Soleimani – who was killed by a US drone strike in Iraq last January.
South Africa-born Marks, 66, was sworn in as US ambassador in October and is a longtime ally of Donald Trump.
Her association with Trump could have led to her being targeted by the Iranian regime, US officials warned.
An intelligence community directive known as “Duty to Warn” requires US spy agencies to notify a potential victim if their life is in danger.
Earlier this year, Iran issued an arrest warrant for Donald Trump over the assassination of its top Revolutionary Guards general.
Soleimani’s killing led to a peak in confrontation between Iran and the United States.
Iran retaliated with a rocket attack on an Iraqi air base where US forces were stationed.
The US president is one of 36 people accused by the Iranians of murder and carrying out acts of terrorism following the drone strike.
Trump is at the top of the list of suspects, the prosecutor said, adding that the country’s judiciary has given the 36 names to Interpol and asked for its help to capture the president.
Earlier this month, Tehran announced that an Iranian had been sentenced to death for spying on Soleimani for US and Israeli intelligence.
Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Esmaili said in a televised news conference: “Mahmoud Mousavi-Majd, one of the spies for the CIA and the Mossad, has been sentenced to death.
“He had shared information about the whereabouts of martyr Soleimani with our enemies.
Last summer, Iran said it had captured 17 spies working for the CIA, some of whom it said were sentenced to death.
In February, it said it had sentenced to death a man for spying for the CIA and attempting to pass on information about Tehran’s nuclear program.